The sports game genre is consistently defined by small production times in comparison to other blockbuster titles as the gene itself demands that a new product be delivered to coincide with the next season. The MLB The Show franchise is no exception to this rule. In recent years, the series has been able to make a name for itself by developing new features on a consistent basis. However, an impending fate looms over the franchise, other sports series have suffered from a lack of innovation after an extended period of time on the market. MLB 11 The Show was challenged with the task of translating this recent success onto a portable console while simultaneously dealing with the issues that exist in the sports game genre as a whole.
WORKS JUST AS WELL ON THE SMALL SCREEN
Controls Work Just the Same - Due to a similar button lay-out between the PS3 and PSP, the controls and gameplay operate more than adequately on the handheld version. The same features that you may have seen in recent installments return on the handheld version. Most importantly are the pitching controls which are as precise as ever. Each type of pitch is still assigned to a particular button and the sliders still exist to adjust the various aspects of the pitch.
Many Different Modes to Try Out - The PSP version also boasts several different modes which include but are not limited to Exhibition Mode, Manager Mode, and Create a Player. Of these, I found myself having the most fun with the Manager Mode which plays to those who have more fun managing a team rather than actually playing. Furthermore, the Create a Player feature provides ample fun in of itself as you try to create a name for yourself as you work your way through the baseball ranks. However, I could not help but feel these modes were better suited overall to the console versions as they each require extensive play time to take full advantage of the features each has to offer.
Solid Sound - I was rather worried prior to playing that the sound quality would be questionable on the PSP version. However, my fears were quickly dismissed as the game’s rather interesting soundtrack was conveyed rather nicely through the handheld console’s speakers.
YOU'VE SEEN IT BEFORE
A Roster Upgrade Does Not a New Game Make - I could not help but feel that there lacked a certain amount of innovation between MLB 10 the Show and MLB 11. While there is a roster upgrade that takes into account all of the offseason activity of the baseball world, there is an alarming lack of new features in this installment. While the aforementioned modes are fun and strangely addicting, there is a certain lack of depth to the type of actions that can be taken in Manager Mode for example. One cannot help but wonder if the one year development time is taking its toll on the sports game genre as a whole.
While SCEA is providing a fresh coat of paint to a fence that you feel you’ve seen before, the core experience remains consistent. The game definitely adheres to the old clich� of not fixing what is not broken. Perhaps only drastic problems will force revolutionary change. Until that day comes, I am content to enjoy the new minor bells and whistles; however, I cannot say the same for everyone. If you’re looking for a game that stays fun but don’t have the access to a full-fledged console, you could do a lot worse than MLB 11 the Show on the PSP.